Don’t Bodger Your Business

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a bodger as “A person who makes or repairs something badly or clumsily.”

My late father was a terrible bodger. In his case, having lived through the two World Wars when people had to “make do and mend”, I could argue that he had an excuse. He thought that what he was doing was saving money but in reality it wasn’t. Let me give you one example.

When he became too old to mow the lawn with his old, heavily engineered, Dennis Paragon mower he decided to buy a ride-on one. Looking at the size of the lawn to be cut, the sales person insisted that the model my father was buying was not up to the task but my father had made up his mind as the recommended model was more expensive. Guess what? The sales person was right and my father then spent months getting bits cut out of the cutting deck so that it wouldn’t clog up. After two summers of a terrible looking lawn (which had been his pride and joy for years) he eventually saw sense and bought the machine he was originally recommended by the sales person. And the difference between the two? A more powerful engine!

So why am I telling you this?

You would be amazed at how many of the owners and/or the directors of companies I see and/or work with are classic bodgers. Rather than buying or hiring the right piece of equipment or a new member of staff or a contractor to do the required job, they find ways of “adapting” what they have already got. They don’t realise that they have fallen into the classic trap of being “penny wise and pound foolish”. When it comes to people (and this is the area where 95% of bodgering happens in my experience) they make one massive assumption that invariably turns out to be wrong – that people have an infinite capacity to expand and learn new things often whilst still being expected to perform the role that they were originally hired for.

So here’s a test for you, and be honest with yourself. How many times has something “trivial” come up in your company when you’ve said to yourself something like “Oh so-and-so can easily do that”, given the role to them and then wondered why, a few months later, you haven’t got the results you expected? Sound familiar? If so, you my friend are a bodger!

So why is bodgering such a bad idea, no ifs or buts?

Because it is expensive.

Think back to my father’s ride-on lawnmower. How much time and money do you think he spent on adapting the cutting deck? And how much more expensive do you think the more powerful machine was? Would it surprise you to learn that he spent almost three times as much as this difference on his bodgering? Now think of the hidden costs when you ask a member of staff to take on a new role/task for which they are not qualified, i.e. the learning they need to acquire, the cost of the mistakes they will undoubtedly make, the drop off in performance in the role they were hired for etc. And then the knock out blow – the cost of the time to put all this right. Add that little lot up and you should quickly realise that you would have saved a small fortune if you’d just bought the correct tool/person for the job in the first place.

So let me end with this analogy which I hope will drive home the point. You can easily cut yourself with a chisel or a scalpel. But if you ever need to have major surgery, do you want your surgeon to use a chisel to make the incision?

I thought not!

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